Saturday, 22 August 2009

No.144 Of Minutes in the Day

I worked it out this morning that I can save a full minute each time I fill up at a Tesco petrol station by selecting pay with card rather than Pay at Kiosk. Why has it taken me so long to suss this one out? Best of all I don't have to risk poor service either at a time of day that very often tips me into a bad mood if I experience it. So what to do with this full spare 3 minutes each week?

The new training centre is moving preciously close to completion though I feel a furious Sunday coming on adjusting, de-snagging and making last minute changes - an exercise destined to take a tad longer than 3 minutes I summise...

Friday, 21 August 2009

No.135 Of White Lines and Wonky Work Men

Today the men came to do the whitelines in the car park. This was a very nostalgic moment for me for painting white lines on roads was my first well paid job as a teenager. £2.50/hr if I remember rightly. I was 18 at the time had never been so rich and driving my mum's Fiat 126 I thought I was the dogs b****ks.

Painting lines on roads is fun for the first 10 minutes. Thereafter it loses its appeal and as you burn round corners streaming white or yellow lines behind you you begin to dream of other professions to be in or at least other places.

One such place I remember visiting whilst On the Lines was a pub as we waited for the car park to clear once closing time had come and gone. One drink led to another and we ambled out with far too much confidence than was good for us to start and finsih the job. The wonky white lines all over that pub car park somewhere near Bishop's Stortford apparently are something of a cause celebre. I must go and see if they're still there one day.

No.135 Of Say Who You Are Saturday

Well. It was Follow Friday in the world of Twitterdom yesterday. I wonder if I could invent my own type of day for the blogging world : Say Who you are Saturday. This is the day when all those following others on blogs that may not be known to them reveal themselves and say a little bit about who they are. You see I have 12 followers just now (note no biblical analogies called into play here). Come to think of it, if Jesus was on Twitter how many Followers would he have? Only 8 of those following are at all known to me. The four others are complete strangers as far as I am aware. Now don't get me wrong all are welcome. Stats online are what life is all about nowadays to many it seems but I am curious about my unknown guests. The four are (with my best guesses along side) :

* Rob Bryce - clean bowled no idea
* D@ve - no idea but looks a little bit like a Solicitor friend of mine in the NorthWest
* Diane Court - Court the married name of Diane Burrows someone I used to play kiss chase with in the playground aged 8?
* David McCavery - don't know except when taking my car into Antrim Motors last month I noticed a certificate on the wall of Mechanical Competence in favour of David McCavery...

Oh the mystery of it all. It really is Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick kinda stuff...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

No.134 Of Reviews, Plans & Pushes

I'm guest writing the weekly review of employment law this week. A duty bestowed on me due to the absence of a colleage and a task last performed a good few years ago. The trouble is I have no idea what's been happening in the world of work this week being too busy creating plans for Legal-Island.

Yesterday I had a great meeting with our friends at the Belfast Telegraph. We discussed plans for Twitter seminars both online and on the ground in Belfast and the NorthWest. The marketing strategy is to harnish the power of Twitter, Email, Blog and traditional media to push what we plan to do. A large part of it is trackable so it will be interesting to see what works best.

Away to find out what's been happening in the world of work and report on same...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

No.133 Of Dingins & Driving Rain

"Dya wanna Dingin" the farmer demanded to know late last night through the window of my car. I wasn't quite sure what the word "Dingin" meant but I was fairly sure that the answer was No. "Whar are yee for" he asked. "I'm for An'rim" I replied. "Well you'd better get ya car back up this lane before these cows get the better of ya car". I duly obliged and watched the best part of 200 hundred cows file past in the pitch black and the pouring rain. A friend (a farmer's daughter) told me afterwards that it's illegal to move cows at night. Had I had known this I wouldn't have pointed it out to my friend for he was bigger me and why risk to dingins in one night?

I had been returning from Doagh and some dog walking duties which had been performed in the driving rain. This morning I woke to driving rain and drove to work through driving rain. As I type I spy driving rain through my office window. I never used to notice the weather much before I moved to NI now it's all I can do not to be obsessed by it.

Monday, 17 August 2009

No.132 Of Loos Records and Pogo Sticks

I keep picking up War and Peace only to put it down again. I'm determined to read this thing but I'm frightened to start. Once I do I've promised myself I have to see it through to the bitter end and that could be a whole year of my life accounted for. May be I just need to work out how I can save 5 minutes everyday by time managing better and devote the extra to the book. Or should I just do what everyone else does and read whilst on the loo? Such a disrespectful thing to do that I've always felt.

I caught the plasterer today hoping around on his spring loaded stilts doing the ceiling of our new training room. It looked loads of fun but he seemed bored like he'd been doing it for far too long. It remind me of a pogo stick I once had. I could hop on it non-stop for 2 hours. That must have been a world record I always thought or at least a Devon County one. County records are always easy to have in a place like Devon where there are few people anyway and fewer still pogo sticks.

Friday, 14 August 2009

No.131 Of Being Left Alone to Your Flu

Ehhh I have a temperature. I have a runny nose and its pouring with rain outside.

Things that annoy me - and they are many of these when feeling run down. They include people who use the expression "I'll take a rain check on that one". People who log into Twitter first thing and say "Good Morning Everyone". What's the point? People who phone you in the car on a hands free because they think it's good time management to do two things at once when you, on the other end, can only hear the occasional word, loads of crackling and know the business call will get no further than arranging a date to meet face-to-face when they will have to call you back anyway because they can't check their diary when driving.

On a more upbeat note I discovered last night. I'm impressed by this but I'm also a little scarred by it too. You investigate its potential and keep expressing involuntary profanities so astonishing is its capability & reach. I'm scared because tools like this are going to completely revolutionise the way we do marketing and much as though I'm fascinated by all this digital media stuff just occasionally I wish, like the flu, it would leave me alone to get on with my life. Oh the drama....time for another lemsip.

No.130 Of Inspiring People & Lesser Mortals

I've met some really inspiring people this week. So why do I feel so run down? Something to do with fatigue, the awful weather and a dose of the flu perhaps.

This week I've met people at the twilight of their careers who still seem incredibly motivated and enthusiastic about what they do which is inspiring and also quite beautiful to see. I've met others part way through their careers who still believe they can change the world for the better. Of course, they're wrong. They can't, not completely. But they will change it in some positive way - so good for them. I've also met others who have shown me a remarkable ability to find something positive and even humourous in the darkest of situations that would have completely crushed lesser mortals.

To all these people I salute you.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

No.129 Of Strange People Doing Strange things

Last night I scaled Slemish with some friends to watch the meteor shower we had been assured was going to happen. As they quaffed a bottle of white I scanned the sky for meteorites. We saw two between us all in three hours.

What we also spotted from high above was some rather curious activity going on in the car park well below. People get up to strange things nowadays making those who climb mountains at midnight in the pitch dark weighed down with booze look really quite normal.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

No.128 Of Pleasant & Scary Encounters

By popular request I've uploaded a photo taken on my mobile from Scott's wedding reception. Both Mrs Alexander and Mr looked great though apparently the latter fluffed his lines at the big moment. Unusual for someone not unaccustomed to being on stage you might think. Still there's big moments and big moments..

I've had strange networking experiences this week being treated to master classes in both how to do it and how not to do it. In the former category fall firmly Brian and Rita O'Kane from Oaktree Press. I nicer pair of people you're unlikely to find and they always deliver on the golden rule of networking : above all make it a pleasant encounter.

Monday, 10 August 2009

No.127 Of Rising and Falling Stars

I picked up a link on Twitter this morning to a web site where you can check your ranking according to where you live. It had been sent by someone who is currently 44th highest ranked Twitterer in Dublin. Curious I typed in Belfast to check my own ranking but couldn't find my listing anywhere. Remembering that I actually live in Antrim I tried that and there I was third! Oh the sense of pride.

Apparently we're all going to be treated to meteor showers on Wednesday night so I'm organising a midnight party atop of Slemish for to watch the spectacle whilst quaffing a bottle of red. I wonder how many volunteers I'll find....

No.126 Of Punishing Schedules

Wow what a day. It started at 7.30a.m. with a dip in the pool and 30 lengths. This consisted of the standard 20 plus 10 as punishment for doing no exercise at all over the weekend.

It's 20.38p.m. and I'm still at work sending increasingly impatient emails to barristers requesting replies to emails sent weeks ago. Why are they as a creed so difficult to communicate with when they are meant to be master communicators?

We heard today that we have been shortlisted for the National Training Awards and should expect a visit at some stage this month or early next. Yet another reason to tidy my desk.

I'm meeting Eddie McArdle tomorrow of the General Teachers' Union which should be interesting. This will be my second of three visits to Belfast this week. If I could have stuffed all meetings in one day I calculate I could have saved something like 4 hours working time this week. But it wasn't possible - or at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself lest I have to punish myself for sloppy diary management by doing another 10 lengths of the pool early tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

No.125 Of Happy Families & Hard Times

Wow! What a great night last night turned out to be. I joined friends near Doagh and picnicked on top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the countryside as far it goes before stopping at Newtwownabbey/Belfast. Their 3 year old son was huge fun and there's no dog more cuddly than their black lab Elsa (particularly when she's on the hoke for some of your cheese sandwich).

Later we adjourned to their front garden and quaffed a bottle of red while we talked about anything and nothing into the small hours. There's something about great company from lovely people that you so get on which just makes an evening so relaxing.

I jumped into the MG and made my way home under the stars and a full moon thinking life is pretty good just now and I woke to find the feeling still hadn't worn off this morning.

Life is also pretty hard at the moment too for many. There's a guy who has been working on my friend's house extension. He's been clearing bolders for the builder and other stuff to take to the tip (a distance of at least 3 miles). He's made five trips already and has charged just £45.

Friday, 7 August 2009

No.124 Of Singing the Blues

Last night Youngen and I went to see Lee Rodgers play at the John Hewitt in Belfast. I'm not sure if live blues music gets any better than this. It was raw understated passionate music straight to you in the audience. I've never seen my nephew so animated about anything in a long while.

How come you get quality musicians like this hidden away in bars frequented by so few people and an awful lot of rubbish making a mint out of 12 months of fame?

Loads of work to do today including a performance review this morning and meetings this afternoon.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

No.123 Of Demanding Weather & Garage Door Engineers

Yesterday was a day of furious networking. 6 meetings in one day. That has to be a PB for Dublin at least.

Youngen and I flew up the motoroway with the lid down in glorious sunshine until we got to the border when the heavens opened. Youngen's hair (already quite full on) looked like he was a white Rasta who'd just put his hand in an electrical socket by the time we got to Dundalk.

Emptying the warehouse today before flying up to the Giant's Causeway for what must be my 20th visit by now. I never get borded of the place though. It looks different everytime.

I understand the man who fixed my garage door last week is after me for an unpaid bill. I must get him some cash (a cheque it seems wont do) before Shylock demands his pound of flesh.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

No122 Of Sinking Pints and Sinking Ships

Yesterday "Youngen" and I set off in the inflatable Kyak from Templepatrick to canoe the 5 miles or so into Lough Neagh. Within half a mile the boat was taking in water badly. The fishermen eitherside of the bank must have thought they were witnessing two men floating by in a paddling pool. Within a mile I had given the order to abandon ship as we sank fortuitously right by Ellie Mays public house establishment where we drank guiness in our rubber gear as we waited for a neighbour to take back home what was left of the expedition.

By 9p.m. last night we were sitting in Templebar Dublin eating & drinking. If there was a recession on you would never know because the restaurants were packed. The food in the burger bar we went to was plain and tasteless. The service was exceptional however. Both waitresses gave a great warmn welcome loads of smiles and eye contact and a bit of patter to finish. I wanted to leave a heavy tip (which I did) in accordance with my tipping policy (tip heavily when the service is exceptional don't when it's not - see earlier blog) whilst youngen wanted to leave his phone number (which he did not).

Networking today with 6 meetings in as many hours.

Monday, 3 August 2009

No121 Of Mildrew & Marmite

I swam 30 lengths this morning. Yes you read it right 30 lengths. Three at speed as well racing a bloke in the lane next to me. I don't think he realised I was racing him which may be why I won by half a length. Oddly he's the spitting image of Victor Mildrew. I wonder if when the dreaded log made it's terrible appearance last week he declared "I don't believe it!"

I seem to have developed a craving for marmite sandwiches at the moment. Not any type of marmite sandwiches but Barry specials which are just the business. Try this. White bread not brown (that's the first naughty bit) covered by a thick film of organic slightly salted butter (that's the next naughty bit) topped by a very thin but equally spread smear of marmite. Crusts off either end and its yours to savour! Ah delightful! Better than any pleasure known to man...

Nephew arrives today for a week which means a week of work interspersed with canoe expeditions, trips to Dublin and Donegal and a few pints too. A few pints with my nephew. Wow that will make me feel old. It seems like only yesterday I was picking him up from the creche.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

No.120 Of Kieran & Mikes

I went to see Kieran Goss last night. The fact that I am typing this listening to one of his CDs must tell you that I enjoyed his concert.

He's a funny looking bloke,. He can't be much more than 5ft but packs a great voice at that and is a master entertainer. He really knows how to work a crowd and keep them entertained. You might say he's the stage anti-thesis of Van Morrison because he gives you the impression that he's really grateful you came to see him.

He was on stage with two other musicians. One played the double bass. The other was a backing singer. She seemed to do nothing except sip tea on stage and occasionally put her mouth to the microphone but to little effect. Most in my party were querying whether her mike was on at all. I may be old fashioned but if you're good enough to be on stage you're good enough to give whatever you're up there for plenty of wellie. She was only a wee figure but then so was Janis Joplin and so is Shirley Bassey and Christine Collister but you always knew when their mikes were on.